Presenting a Biblical response by concerned former Seventh-day Adventists to the Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.

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Commentary on "Grace"



Day 5: Wednesday, May 13, 2009



The focus of Wednesday's lesson is the idea that by beholding Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross, our hearts are changed. The author refers to the thief on the cross as well as the Roman centurion as people who were changed by beholding Jesus' great act of love for us. The author quotes a passage from The Desire of Ages illustrating the fact that change comes by beholding Jesus. The lesson ends by challenging the reader to prayerfully contemplate Calvary.



Again, at initial glance, the theme of Wednesday's lesson seems straightforward: by beholding Jesus, we become changed. But the reader must ask themselves, How do we behold Jesus? And what exactly are we looking for when we "behold" Him?

The E.G White Notes makes it clear what is intended by "beholding" Jesus. Here is an excerpt from The Bible Echo, November 1, 1893:

"We are to contemplate the character of Christ. We are to meditate upon the cross of Calvary; for it is the unanswerable argument of Christianity...he who would be saved must keep his eye on Jesus. By beholding Christ he will learn to hate sin, that has brought to his Redeemer suffering and death. By beholding his faith becomes strong and he comes to know 'the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.'"

Another excerpt from the E.G. White Notes reemphasizes this thought:

"By beholding, we are conformed to the divine similitude, even the likeness of Christ. To all with whom we associate we reflect the bright and cheerful beams of His righteousness. We have become transformed in character; for heart, soul, mind, are irradiated by the reflection of Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us."--The Faith I Live By, p. 150.

According to the Ellen White Notes, we are called to behold the character of Christ. Already, in Monday's lesson, we saw that without becoming born again, we are totally incapable of living godly lives. Will power and focus is not the key to overcoming sin; the Holy Spirit indwelling us, through being born again, is the only way we can overcome our flesh. Our character does not become transformed by "beholding", but rather by living and submitting to the Spirit who dwells inside of us (see Monday's commentary).

Beholding "the character of Christ" is not the way to salvation. Jesus is our substitute, not our example. Furthermore, the quote, “he who would be saved MUST KEEP his eye on Jesus" (emphasis mine) implies that we could lose our salvation. The Bible is clear that we can be certain of our salvation if we have trusted Jesus to be our Lord and Savior.

Jude 24 says, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy." It is God's power that keeps the believer from falling. Our eternal security is totally a result of God, and not us.

Jesus says in John 10:27-29,

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

Ephesians 1:13 says that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit "as a pledge of our inheritance". When we have confessed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are gripped by both the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is our seal for the day of redemption. The entire Godhead holds our salvation. A believer has nothing to fear about their eternity. Their salvation is secure.



  1. We are changed by being born again, not by "beholding" the character of Jesus.
  2. Jesus is our substitute, not our example.
  3. Eternal security is promised to the believer.






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